Watching Someone Die

At some point in life many people have this experience. For better or worse I have had this experience a handful of times

This is one story


John Smithson

A beloved man. A beloved teacher

His students were inspired and entertained by Smitty every day! πŸ˜€ Earlier in his young adulthood, Smitty had been an off Broadway stage actor. He would often come to class in costume and character and perform a great monologue from a book, movie, or play πŸ˜€

Now in his 60’s and having been a multiple-pack smoker a day for many many years he became swiftly stricken with cancer and was hospitalized 😦

I soon learn he had never married and also had no children 😦 Smitty was a colleague I really knew little about other than his impact with his students

The hospital where Smitty was sent to was far from the school but near my home. I started visiting every evening

I don’t remember my thoughts about this at the time but I was the only person to visit him, besides a young man that lived on Smitty’s block that Smitty had looked upon as like a son

I would go every evening after work and spend 2-3 hours with him until visiting hours were over. Smitty had already lost the ability to speak and move. The illness hit hard
and fast. It was all about me trying to read his eyes and occasional facial gestures

Throughout the school day I would ask different teachers to spell me a few minutes during their conference periods so could report to his classes how he was doing and collect cards, letters, and well wishes and prayers his students wanted to send along πŸ˜€

That was probably the highlight of the day for Smitty when I would get to his room and share with him all the gifts and words his students had sent him πŸ˜€ His face would light up and he would smile the most heartfelt smile πŸ˜€

Often tears would flow, both his and mine

Those of you that know me, this was a very difficult experience for me to be part of…

but it was also a no brainer

Nobody should die alone

Young people should not have a person who has been so influential and meaningful in their life ripped away from them and not knowing as much as possible about why and how they are doing

It was only a few weeks that my daily hospital visits lasted. Smitty went quick

I remember reporting to only one of his classes the day after I went to the hospital and was told he died that afternoon 😦 By then I was telling all the classes it would be any day now. His overall health declined visibly every day

I don’t know if being there for him and keeping him and his students connected to each other helped either

Recalling all of this is making my heart very very achy 😦

Smitty had soul πŸ˜€

I didn’t go to the funeral. As I said before, Smitty wasn’t my friend. He was someone I respected and was there for him on his last days. The experience of watching him die and sharing that with his students and sending their hopes and prayers back to him was all I could handle

I’ve said before I hope when I die people have something better to do than sit around a box

First of all, Viking Funeral for me


Good way to end this

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2 Responses to Watching Someone Die

  1. Camille says:

    I loved the way you honored out Tio at his funeral. I felt very proud to call you Primo…not cousin but Primo. I can’t recall your exact words but I remember how you made me feel. It was a difficult time for all of us but I found comfort in what you said. Gracias for that sweet memory πŸ™‚

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